Friday, November 28, 2014

And then there were four...

Now that he's over a month old,  it's about time I get around to writing out his birth story!

It was SO very different to go into this pregnancy knowing the outcome would be a C-section.

We had an ultrasound done at 6 weeks to confirm pregnancy and check on everything since my progesterone levels were low.  Then we had the fetal scan/gender ultrasound at 18 weeks.  And that's it...  We went the other 21 1/2 weeks of our pregnancy without getting to see our baby--so strange.  But when I asked about having another one, my doctor explained that there really wasn't a need so the insurance wouldn't cover it--everything was going well, his heartbeat was great, my weight gain and measurements were perfect; and it really didn't matter what size he was because we would be having a section either way.  It made me nervous to not check on you with my eyes...but at the same time, what he was saying made sense.

Knowing the date we would most likely have you was also quite strange.  I didn't progress at all with Arabella, so I really didn't expect to this go round either; meaning I was pretty sure I'd make it to the section date with no labor at all (although it was only 4 days before my due date and that freaked me out sometimes!).  However, my doctor never once examined me to check progress, so I really had no clue.  That was also extremely strange.  But he didn't want to trigger anything to start, so he left well enough alone.  I was able to go to church the morning before we had you and tell people, "tomorrow!"  We were prayed over very intentionally for that day.  I could make plans for grandparents and work schedules and Arabella.  I was able to count down actual days to meeting you.  It was just a much more definite date than an estimated due date--the suspense was eased some, but the impatience was amplified.

So here's what actually happened...

My sister came over that Sunday night to take care of Arabella the next day for us.  We loaded up the car, cleaned the house, installed the carseats, and all that jazz Sunday night.  Then everybody went to bed except me...  I was already having restless nights and staying up pretty late; but there was no way I was able to go to bed at a decent hour anyway knowing I was having a baby in the next 8-10 hours.

We were scheduled for the first surgery of the day at 7:30, so we needed to be at the hospital at 6 (leaving the house at 5:30).  It was such a strange feeling to walk out of the house that morning, driving to the hospital knowing we would have you in a few short hours.  We walked in and headed up to the third floor to try and find out where to go.  Thankfully we passed a nurse (the floor was so empty that early in the morning!) who directed us through the poorly labeled maze of the maternity ward and we were able to get checked into pre-op.  Mimi and Papa (my parents) got there at the same time as us, so they were able to visit with us through the wait.  MawMaw, Nanny, and PawPaw (Hunter's parents) got there a little bit later.  And Aunt Mel and Arabella came that morning too.

They ended up having an emergency surgery which pushed us back about half an hour.  No biggie.  I basically rubbed your daddy's thumb raw while they put my IV in, but I managed to make it through with only one tear (this was oddly enough the part I was dreading the most...even moreso than the whole getting cut open bit).  Anyway, all the nurses and anesthesia personnel and doctors came in and got their questions answered and paperwork filled out.  And before we knew it, they brought in daddy's {hazmat} suit, I kissed your sister goodbye, and they wheeled me back to the OR.

I had to get the spinal done and get all situated before they let your daddy come in.  By the time he came in there, I was already starting to feel pretty crummy.  Thankfully, I had talked this over in detail with both the anesthetist--she was so fantastic.  I didn't ever once have to tell her I felt bad.  As soon as she could see it on my face, she adjusted my medicines to help the nausea subside.  That was SO helpful.

One of the nurses took daddy's phone as soon as he came in so she could take pictures for us and he could just be in the moment.  Loved that!  Those moments while they were prepping everything were so special.  Your daddy and I finally got the chance to put everything else going on out of our minds, look deeply at each other, and talk about having you.

Before we knew it, Dr. Bost was telling us to get ready, that you were coming out.  I'll never forget his reaction when he pulled your head out--"whoa, we've got a big ole boy in here!"  He had guessed you'd only be a little over 8 pounds, almost definitely smaller than your sister.  I knew he was wrong. I had been telling people for months that you were going to be big...  I wasn't huge for a pregnant woman, but you were everywhere.  I couldn't breathe, every move you made hurt me (and you were strong!), and you just felt a lot bigger than Arabella...which at almost an inch longer and more than a pound heavier, I was right!

He had to basically climb on my chest to get enough peerage to pull you out.  I literally couldn't breathe until you were out of me.  And then he lifted you over the curtain and I teared up immediately.  It was so hard for me to wrap my head around having another kid through the entire pregnancy; and laying my eyes on you for the first time was enough to swell my heart.

And then you cried and I started up again!  I was so emotional the whole time you were back there with us.  They cleaned you up and got you all labeled and banded while they sewed me up.  Then you and daddy went off to the nursery to finish all of your stats and such.  I remember the nurse coming back in and telling me how much you weighed, and that's it.  I don't remember anything else until we were in the room and I had fed you.  Your daddy tells me I was wide awake and having conversations the whole time, but for the life of me, I don't remember any of it.

I do remember being in our room (not at all getting there...) and feeding you.  Our nurse that day didn't want anyone to hold you--or even leave you in the room for that matter.  You weren't crying and you were making all these little grunts and flaring your nostrils (all typical for new babies...and you haven't stopped since).  Anyway, she said all of these were signs that you were stressed out and your lungs were struggling (say what?!).  I had to ask her to leave you in the room and she said she would, but nobody needed to hold you.  Well that lasted all of about the 2 seconds it took her to close the door before I told one of your grandmamas that they better pick you up.  After that, it was history and you got all kinds of loving for the rest of the day.

It took Arabella a little while to warm up to the idea of holding you...or really having anything to do with you other than looking.  She was pretty concerned about me not feeling well, so that took most of her focus.  However, Juannie finally got her to hold you that evening.  It only lasted about a minute before she said, "oh, but he's so heavy!" and handed you back off.  Each day, she got more comfortable and more fond of you.  Now, at a month old, she refuses to let you go anywhere without her and begs to hold you all the time.  She absolutely adores you.

Your glucose levels wouldn't stay up, so they had to do several Accuchecks on you before you ate and we had to supplant with formula a few times.  You also struggled with jaundice and your levels wouldn't stop climbing.  We even had to do 3 bilirubin tests after we left the hospital before we finally started to see a decline.  Mama's blood counts were really low again, but thankfully I wasn't showing any tell tale symptoms and escaped the need for a transfusion.  They discharged both of us on Thursday (you were born on Monday).

Oh, mama and daddy love you two more than you will ever, ever know.

We are completely in love with you, Kaplan Paul.  Welcome to our crazy little family--we'll do our best to get you through this crazy big world.  

And then there were four...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude can transform ordinary days into Thanksgivings...

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!  I hope today is centered around gratitude for you--both in the joys and the struggles, the highs and the lows, the big and the small.  I hope that in whatever plot mark life has you in right now, that you are ale to see through eyes of gratitude.  Those lenses will change Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to a constant state of being,  And that will bring more peace and joy to you than you could ever dream.

A small list of things I'm grateful for today, in my right now:

--my husband.  I could not have ever dreamed that I would find my match at 15 years old.  Or that I would snag him and he, me, so quickly and completely.  He is my other and often better half.  He works harder than any other person I know.  He serves, protects, and provides.  His heart is passionate and his brain is eager.  He loves fully and fiercely.  He is tender-hearted and hard-headed.  He has blown me away as a daddy.  I could not ask for anything more in a husband and I will forever be grateful for everything he is to my life.

--my children.  They are the most beautiful creatures I have ever laid my eyes on and they hold my heart.  They have taught me that I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be.  They have taught me how to be extremely patient and how to love so much it literally hurts.  They have shown me what absolute joy and innocence are.  They have made me worry and fear more than anything else in my life before; yet they have also made me happier and more carefree than anything else.  They amaze me every single day, and I still struggle to understand how I was chosen to be their mama.  They are my best gifts and I am beyond grateful for that grace.

--my Hunter's job.  I absolutely cannot stand the hours he's working and the stress he's under and how much of him they've stolen from me and our kids this year.  But.  It is a very good job that supports our family very well; and it is a job he is very good at and usually loves.  So, while I don't like it right now, I am extremely grateful for it.

--our families.  Since Hunter and I started dating so young, our families really aren't "in-laws" to us...each other's families helped raise us; each other's siblings are like our own; a lot of each other's family memories include the other...  The upbringings we had and the love we live in is just incredible.  We owe so much to our families, and we are so very grateful for each and every member.

--my two best friends, Rachel and Dajuanna.  Rachel's birthday is today and Dajuanna's is Sunday--and I just find it so fitting that these two beauties share "their day" with a time of year centered around giving thanks.  These girls are my rocks, my advisors, my people.  They are my go to for my biggest excitement and my deepest heartbreak.  They've seen me at my worst and completely loved me through it.  They know me better than almost anyone else, including myself.   They've both shown me precious glimpses of Jesus, and there is not a single day that goes by that I am not utterly grateful for each of their friendship.

--our church family.  We have been loved so well and so fully by our home congregation here.  They have served as a safe place of embrace as Hunter and I establish our own faith walk as a married couple and young family.  They love our children as they own (my kids have SO many "aunts/uncles" and "grandparents" there) and are helping us raise them to know and love Jesus.  Our youth group has completely stolen our hearts and our passion...serving alongside those teens and being allowed to witness their growth is truly one of the most incredible things we've been able to do.  We are so grateful for the experiences we've had, the lessons we've learned, and the people we've loved there.

--our home, laughter, music, crafting supplies, creativity, good books, second (and third, fourth, and fifth) chances, hope, family pictures, Colic Calm (miracle medicine...seriously), blog world, Cajun food and my beautiful home state of Louisiana, memories, chocolate chip peppermint shakes from Chick-Fil-A, education and learning, chilly weather, football,  soft pillows, road trips and vacations, movies, love stories, Pinterest and Facebook, my stamp club, giving gifts, secrets, bubble baths, Sonic ice, tears, childish giggles, fans, Shutterfly books (love/hate relationship...but the love usually wins out), good kisses and warm hugs, big fuzzy blankets, sleep, each and every one of you...

And none of this gratitude or joy or hope or peace would be full in my heart without the promise of freedom provided by the blood of Jesus.  His perfect love is the lens I pray my heart to use.  That I will be able to see every person, opportunity, and even struggle as a chance to rejoice and offer thanks.

Find the good in every day.  Be grateful every day.  And allow every day to become Thanksgiving.

But for the sake of today and the holiday, I hope you get to get your grub on surrounded by your best people :)

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!
love, angie

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Can I just be honest?

**Warning:  this post is a major vent session for me, and about a topic that has the possibility of being "controversial".  If you choose to read it and your response is ugly or judgmental, please, for the sake of this tired mama's sanity and sense of worth, keep it to yourself.**

I know I haven't gotten around to writing out the birth story just yet, but we had our little boy 3 weeks ago.  He was a biggun and all in all is a really good baby.

And golly, he's pretty.  Just like his big sister.  They are my greatest gifts and I love my babies dearly.

But can I just be honest about a couple of things?  A couple of things I really don't like?

1.  I really don't like (as in on the verge of using hate most of the time)...breastfeeding.

With Arabella, I only lasted 3 weeks.  And honestly, I don't know how on earth I lasted as long as I did with her.  I was sick (anemia, very low blood counts, irregular blood pressure, and a very destructive gall bladder) without really knowing the extent; so I was even more exhausted than newborn normal and I just never felt good at all.  I also never produced enough milk for her, so she was very restless and fussy...because I was basically starving her.  It became my strongest trigger for postpartum depression and things turned ugly quick.  After some talking with my husband and sister to work through my feelings of guilt and failure, and talking to my nurse about what all was going on and how I was feeling, I found myself no longer breastfeeding (one of the biggest feelings of relief in my life) and on a nice little dose of anti-depressant.  For me, it was the right decision.

After that experience, I really had no idea if I would even try to breastfeed again.  I shocked a lot of people (myself included) when we got pregnant with Kaplan and I told them I wanted to try again.  We're at the three mark right now, and I can honestly say things are going so much smoother with him.  I'm producing, he's latching (usually) and growing, he's put himself on a pretty regular eating schedule.  But guess what...I still hate it.

There are SO many pushes right now for breastfeeding.  And while I think that's great because I really do know, understand, and believe the benefits of nursing...I also find them pretty judgmental and detrimental to those of us mamas who choose to or must use formula.  I'm sure this post alone will get some feathers ruffled of those who are extremely passionate breastfeeders.  But that's not my intention at all.  I simply need an outlet and this is one of my best; plus I know there are other mamas who feel the same way I do, and I personally know how important it is to realize and recognize you aren't the only one who feels this way.

So why do I not like it?  Let's see...
--I'm so tired of being sore.  (plus, he has thrush, so that has made us both hurt and even more miserable.)
--I'm really tired of smelling all the time.  It's gross.  The combination of milk, saliva, lanolin, and just smells.
--Feeling helpless is exhausting and very lonely.  I'm so tired of being the only one who can "fix" anything that he needs.  I crave help...and I actually really enjoy (and miss) watching other people being able to feed my babies, especially their daddy.
--Having to sleep in a bra.  And wear one 24/7.  And they aren't cute or comfortable.  Oh, and let's add wearing nursing pads to that.
--I don't like having to remember what I ate and wonder what ingredient "messed him up" or caused him any tummy troubles.  I'm from Louisiana--I love spicy food.  When crawfish fettuccine gave him tummy problems the whole next day, that right there was enough for me to consider calling it quits.
--I strongly dislike comfort nursing.  That whole "strong bonding experience" that everyone claims comes with nursing--yeah, I've never felt that.  I can't stand knowing that he's not hungry but just wants to be on me all the time.
--Figuring out something to wear is even more difficult now than when I was clothing my huge pregnant belly.  I have to find a shirt that can easily be lifted and he fit under or can be pulled down in the front; and I run out of those quickly.  Plus, it's starting to get cold and I really want to wear my hoodies and long sleeve t-shirts...those are so inconducive to nursing.  And by golly, I really just want to wear clothes that fit!
--Feeding takes so long.  He eats pretty much every three hours; sometimes he'll stretch it to four.  Well that's every three hours from when he starts.  And then he eats for 45 minutes at the least.  2 hour breaks...and that's assuming he doesn't comfort nurse in between (which unless he is absolutely sound asleep doesn't happen).
--Convenient?  SO many people tell me all the time how much more convenient breastfeeding is that bottle feeding.  Well, in my opinion, that is definitely not the case.  Sure, it's nice to not have to wash bottles or pack them in the diaper bag.  However, having to plan everything I do around when he eats; having him melt down in the middle of a store or dinner because he's hungry; making sure I'm accessible all the time in case he gets hungry or has one of those needs for a blasted comfort feed...that's not convenient.  Being able to give him a bottle whenever and wherever we are--and that someone else can feed him if I'm doing something else (including taking care of or playing with my other child...)--that is convenience to me.
--It makes me frustrated with my kid, and that's not cool.
--I just really don't like it.

So why have I not stopped?  Let's see...
--everything is working and I feel really guilty and like a complete failure to quit (refer back to all of those pushes for breastfeeding over formula...  not to mention hormones).
--it's free.
--I do know the benefits (trying to decide how my mental and emotional states suffering compares to the benefits).

We're just over 3 weeks with Kaplan (apparently that's my threshold...)  I haven't decided yet how long we'll last.  I am somewhat starting the weaning process because I know it will happen at some point.  And since it needs to go so slowly, I really need it to start now before I lose my mind.  Who knows, maybe in the next couple of weeks I won't mind it as much or may even start to like it.  But even so, I'd be ok with at least a couple-few feedings be by bottle.  We'll see what happens.

While I'm ruffling feathers and being honest, let me tell you what else I'm not a huge fan of.

2.  The newborn stage.

Now, before you go condemning me and gasping in horror, let me clarify that I love newborns.  But it is a completely different beast when you are having to be the life source for one of those tiny critters versus getting to be a good snuggle buddy and then parting ways.

When they're sleeping, there is nothing better than a newborn.  They're tiny and they smell good and they snuggle so well.  But the problem is, they wake up and they wake up POed.  And they wake up a lot.  Especially at night when all you want to do is not wake up.  And they cry a lot.  And they poop all the time and spit up quite a bit.

I went to the Dollar Store by myself the other night to pick up a late night treat (really wanted some ice cream...)  Our Dollar General has an entrance drive in our neighborhood, so it is literally right up the road and I was only gone about 10 minutes.  But as soon as I got in the car and pulled out of my driveway, I was completely overwhelmed with a sense of freedom.  It was completely unexpected and it flooded me.  I had no idea how "trapped" I truly felt until I was able to just be me and just be alone.  Even if it was only for a 10 minute trip to the dollar store.

Call me crazy, but I much prefer about 3 months on up.  When they start to figure things out, gain some personality...when my hormones balance back out...

The really weird thing is that I know I'll miss the newborn stage, even though I really don't like it all that much while I'm in it.  It won't happen immediately, but this tiny, helpless being who is absolutely exhausting will have me missing this phase.  However, those well-intentioned tips to "enjoy every minute"...yeah, that's crap.  I will miss the tiny snuggles and the cooing and the weaker cry (vs. the all out scream fest an older child can produce...weak may not be the right word, but the cry of a newborn is softer and more delicate); I will miss the innocence and the wonder.  But I won't miss the exhaustion and unpredictability...and frankly, those aren't "minutes" I enjoy.

3.  Turnarounds.

Hate them.  And I am SO over this one that my boy is working.

So there ya have it.  Little Kaplan and I will keep trudging along, figuring each other out and what works best for both of us.    Right now though, we're going to take a nap :)

love, angie

PS--I really am ok (after my issues last time, my people start to worry when I get frustrated...).  We get along most of the time and everything is working as well as it's supposed to with a new baby.  Fret not family and friends...I promise I'm not going crazy this time.